Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

May Books 28) Gösta Berling's Saga

28) Gösta Berling's Saga, by Selma Lagerlöf

This seemed to me a fairly painless way of dipping my toe in the lake of great Swedish writing, Lagerlöf having been the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. It is more a series of linked short stories than a novel, mainly telling the story of a year in the life of Gösta Berling, a somewhat dissolute unfrocked clergyman who is given a chance to redeem himself through the exercise of social and moral responsibility. It reminded me a bit of both George Eliot and Tolstoy in the emotional agonies of village life, with of course the climate being much colder (and some overt intervention from supernatural beings). Frankly, Lagerlöf is not as deep as either Eliot or Tolstoy, and I felt not quite convinced that Berling deserves our sympathy as much as she seemed to believe; in particular, he is pretty dismal in his relationships with women. Still, it is an engaging book with some brilliant moments (mainly involving the battle of humans against the elements).
Tags: bookblog 2008, nobel laureates, world: sweden
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